AMA Introduces Medication Safety Checklist for Patients

March 8, 2011

To kick off National Patient Safety Awareness Week, the AMA is urging patients to give their medicine cabinets a check-up.

To help mark National Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 6-12), the American Medical Association (AMA) has released a Medication Safety Checklist and is urging patients to clean out their medicine cabinets.

“National Patient Safety Awareness Week provides an excellent opportunity for patients to clean out their medicine cabinets annually,” said AMA board member Edward Langston, MD, in a press release. “The AMA encourages patients to not only dispose of their expired or unused medications, but to also keep medications out of reach of children.”

The Medication Safety Checklist is an online resource that provides patients with helpful tips to keep track of prescription medications, vitamins, home remedies, and alternative therapies, and encourages patients to provide that information to their physician, promoting conversation about medications. The checklist is designed to foster "a partnership between patients and their physicians focused on eliminating medication errors,” said Langston. “By talking to their physicians about all medications and supplements, whether or not they are prescribed, patients take an active role in health care safety.”

The AMA offers additional patient safety resources on health literacy and medication reconciliation on its Quality of Care Program site.

National Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual education and awareness campaign for health care safety led by the National Patient Safety Foundation. The event will focus on efforts to reduce medication errors and lower hospital readmission rates by facilitating improved patient care through better communication among providers, patients, families, and communities.

“Patient Safety Awareness Week underscores the needs addressed by national discussions on patient safety and emphasizes the value of collective effort and working together for making and keeping our health care system safe,” sid Diane C. Pinakiewicz, president of NPSF, in a statement.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study analyzing close to 12 million fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, nearly 20% of those discharged from a hospital were re-admitted within 30 days; 34% were rehospitalized within 90 days, and 54%, within a year. Medication errors played a large, preventable role in these readmissions, the authors found.

In support of Patient Safety Awareness Week, NPSF is offering several online resources to help patients understand what they can do and what they need to know to stay safe.

In addition, patients can learn about the Ask Me3 program, a health literacy initiative designed to assist with communication between patients and providers by way of three basic questions: 1) What is my main problem?, 2) What do I need to do?, and 3) Why is it important for me to do this?

Patient Safety Awareness Week, which NPSF has been leading since 2002, is intended to raise public awareness about the work being done to improve patient safety and the importance of effective partnering in these improvement efforts. It is also an effort to directly involve patients and health care consumers in the process of ensuring that health care errors do not occur.